In an unprecedented move by an automaker, General Motors is offering select customers a steep discount on its new 2023 Cadillac Lyriq all-electric SUV in exchange for signing a vehicle nondisclosure agreement and agreeing to to let GM track how they use it. .
The automaker gave customers a $5,500 rebate on the purchase or lease of the Lyriq, according to two sources familiar with the plan who had no authority to comment on the details of it. Selected customers have signed a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about their experience owning or driving one of the first Lyriqs with parties outside of GM.
Cadillac spokesman Michael Albano confirmed the program, saying he believes GM is the first automaker to tap into customers – versus employees – in real time in their new cars to study their habits. conduct and their behavior.
“As we transform our business, the launch of our first all-electric vehicle, Lyriq, provides Cadillac with unique learning opportunities,” Albano told the Free Press. “As a result, we have engaged a small group of early customers who are willing to share their vehicle insights and customer behaviors. Cadillac will use these learnings to improve the experience for all of our customers.”
A “private agreement”
Albano also said the importance of the Lyriq to Cadillac’s future as the brand transitions to all-electric by 2030 cannot be overstated.
The Lyriq, which is built at GM’s Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee, is one of GM’s first electric vehicles to use the Ultium battery propulsion system that will underpin 29 other new electric vehicles. that GM will bring to market over the next few years. The 2022 GMC Hummer pickup, which began rolling out late last year, also uses Ultium.
Last week, Cadillac de Novi had the world’s first production Lyriq delivered to its showroom. The dealership sold the vehicle on Thursday to the customer who had ordered it earlier in the year. Cadillac had sent engineers to show technicians at the dealership how to service the vehicle, and he received additional preparation, the “white glove treatment,” Albano said.
“We are doing everything we can to make this launch a success,” Albano said. “It’s a critical launch.”
This includes proposing the idea for the study that follows the first users.
Earlier this summer, GM’s luxury brand quietly pushed the targeted private Cadillac Lyriq offer to select customers, as Carsdirect.com first reported on June 30. In a dealer newsletter last month, Cadillac said the program was available nationwide and GM offered select customers a $5,500 cash allowance on the 2023 Lyriq when purchased or leased. from June 28 to August 31, according to Carsdirect.com.
The rear-drive Lyriq starts at $62,990, a price increase of $3,000 over the Lyriq Debut Edition. The all-wheel-drive model starts at $64,990. First deliveries of the all-wheel-drive model will begin early next year.
The bulletin, Carsdirect.com said, stopped short of saying who was eligible or why GM had such a deal in the works.
But a Cadillac dealer familiar with the program told the Free Press this week that in exchange for the discount, selected customers agreed to be part of a study of early adopters and give Cadillac access to their driving habits. . The dealer asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of Cadillac.
Albano said there were around 20 clients who were chosen for it. He declined to describe the parameters for selecting participants, but Albano said they are primarily located in the New York, Detroit and Los Angeles areas and are “early adopters, they are tech-savvy and they want the first and best”.
“The number of customers involved is intentionally very low,” Albano said in an email. “We will use the program to learn more about customer behaviors and their vehicles. Beyond that, program details are a private agreement between the customer and Cadillac.”
Any GM ‘to review’
Cadillac opened order banks for the Lyriq on May 19, but within two hours it stopped taking orders for the 2023 Lyriq, saying it was sold out. GM won’t quantify what the out of stock means, but earlier this year GM told suppliers to prepare to produce 25,000 Lyriqs this year.
GM’s luxury brand is counting heavily on the success of the Lyriq.
“The Lyriq is really important to Cadillac. Really important,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “If it works, the Cadillac brand moves forward. If it doesn’t work, somebody’s going to lose their minds at Cadillac and they’re going to have to figure out what to do to make the brand relevant.”
So it’s no surprise that GM is going the extra mile with this unprecedented customer study to protect the brand, Gordon said. Still, it’s an unusual and bold move typically seen in industries other than autos, he said. Tech industries, he said, will release beta versions of their software to customers for feedback and to make changes and updates before releasing the mass version, for example.
“I don’t know of any other examples of this in the automotive industry. But I kind of understand,” Gordon said. “You’re coming out with a new product and a new platform. You like collecting data. I think it’s more realistic to collect data from non-employees; you get a wider variety of people and people who aren’t so enthusiastic.You get real-world data.
And having clients sign an NDA also makes sense, because “you don’t want people talking about your experience,” said Gordon, who is also a lawyer, and said the NDA is legal in this case and enforceable.
Albano explained GM’s motive for doing this study simply because GM is not only changing its lineup to all-electric, but is reinventing its go-to-market strategy and, “every part of our business is to be evaluated. There is no not a single part of our business that we are not transforming.”
Albano said Cadillac has always conducted vehicle studies with employees.
“But we can learn a lot from customers beyond the physical vehicle,” Albano said. “We can see their charging behaviors, their driving behaviors and how they use the vehicle.”
Albano said GM will use “a variety of means to gather information from customers,” including direct phone calls, dealer contact and a dedicated EV concierge team. He didn’t have further details, including how long the NDA will last, what the penalty is for violations and whether GM will monitor vehicle software to gather data.
Several Cadillac dealers told the Free Press they support the customer study, calling it smart because it could help Cadillac quickly spot and fix any production or engineering bugs and it provides Cadillac with behavioral insights. customers’ driving habits to make future vehicle improvements.
And it could help GM avoid mass recalls of a newly launched vehicle, like the one from Ford Motor Co., which in June issued a recall for 48,924 of the 2021-22 Mustang Mach-E vehicles built during a two-year period. The mobility device may lose power while driving or fail to start.
On Monday, three owners of the recalled Mach-E filed a federal lawsuit against Ford, claiming the Dearborn automaker was aware of a design flaw in its electric vehicles that causes the loss of power while driving, but did not did not find how to solve the problem.
“You want to fix the first 100 of them, you don’t want to do a big recall,” Gordon said of new vehicle launches. “A recall is expensive and it hurts the brand.”
Not your father’s client
Ivan Drury worked in product planning at American Honda Motor Co. long before his current role as senior knowledge manager at Edmunds.com. At Honda, the company has held focus groups with customers or hired third-party research firms to interview customers and conduct reliability studies, he said.
But GM’s program is “the first time I’ve heard of it at this point.” But he applauds her. “With the data they’re collecting through the vehicle, they can actually verify things. If they’re looking through a real lens, then that’s the way to go,” Drury said.
Drury also understands why GM would want participants to sign an NDA, but he hopes customers understand that it could mean: “We’re going to monitor everything you do, every feature you use, every mile you drive, how much you charge Do you, do they need such reach? You can get powerful data sets. (GM) don’t waste their money.”
Drury called the Lyriq “one of the most important launches of the last decade” and said GM should watch everything it can in cars.
GM would have to wait too long if it commissioned an outside firm to conduct a study of customer reaction to the Lyriq or its performance, Drury said. Avid, tech-savvy customers want flawless technology fast. They lack the patience and tolerance of traditional car buyers.
“It’s a different kind of customer,” Drury said.
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Contact Jamie L. LaReau at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Learn more about General Engines and subscribe to our automotive newsletter. Become a subscriber.